What is Creative Problem Solving?

Last week I was contacted by a friend who knew I was a facilitator and found herself in need of someone to help the Commission that she is on clarify their mission and achieve their goals.

Having been in social work for a few years, she understood the role of a facilitator. (If you don't, here's a succinct explanation:  Facilitators lead groups of individuals and/or teams to (1) understand their common objectives and (2) plan to achieve those common objectives.)

What she didn't fully understand was what Creative Problem Solving (CPS) was and how a facilitator like myself, trained and an expert trainer in CPS, could help her Commission understand and achieve their common objectives. After I explained CPS to her, I realized there are many people who don't know what CPS is and how it could help them ... so I thought I'd offer up this succinct explanation to the world.

Creative Problem Solving (CPS) is a four-stage process for tackling problems:

  1. Clarify the challenge fully by exploring goals & wishes, exploring facts & data points and clearly articulating objectives so teams get and remain on the same page;
  2. Ideate possible solutions to your challenge, without censoring yourself and your team, to stretch and explore all the possibilities by generating many then selecting the optimal ideas;
  3. Develop the optimal ideas so they -- and you-- are ready to take action on ideas that have been evaluated and strengthened;
  4. Implement a solution by formulating an actual, workable, comprehensive action plan.

It's important to realize that CPS is NOT brainstorming -- brainstorming is another way of explaining "divergent thinking" when participants defer judgement and offer many, many ideas or possible solutions to a problem. So we brainstorm during the CPS process, but we also use "convergent thinking" which is deliberate, strategic, discerning and often critical to refine and select key statements, data points, ideas and considerations throughout the process.

CPS facilitators, like myself, are focused on the process, guiding teams through CPS without being vested in and/or attached to the content. Our objectivity is a key component to success with the process.

Here's a link to a page on the Creative Education Foundation website that more fully explains the CPS process.

And if you'd like to talk to me about the ways you can introduce CPS into your organization through my facilitation, please email me at karen@karenlynch.com.